Wine is one of the most imprecise and amorphic consumer goods ever produced; its flavor, quality, relative body, and best use are all subject to a myriad of opinions, most of which are profoundly speculative, if not downright disingenuous. Alleged experts can’t agree upon, really, anything. So what’s the value conscious consumer to do?
First off…stop listening to anyone else’s opinion as to what constitutes value (you can still listen to me, of course). Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Use the following four steps as you navigate the wine minefield:
- Determine what you’re willing to spend. There are great values at all price points…likewise, very inexpensive wines can very poor values. It’s, frankly, very difficult to find a very good wine for under $10, however, there are lots of choices at $15
- Stylistically, what do you like to drink? Are you a fan of crisp, citrusy wines? Viscous, fruit-driven, high alcohol ones? Is oak flavoring a plus or a minus? (Note…I didn’t mention the color of the wine as pigmentation is not a style or flavor)
- Contex…what’s the setting? Pre-meal cocktail to ‘unwind’? Hot day pool-side? Casual potluck with friends? Burgers on the grill? Multi-course gourmet blow-out? Each of these different circumstances suggest different wine choices at different prices.
- Audience…who is drinking and what’s your relationship to them? Are you looking for a wine that will impress or simply an enjoyable beverage?
Bearing the above in mind…step forth! Don’t be intimidated by proclamations of weight or critics’ opinions. Buy the wine style that you like at the price that makes sense to you. You’ll then enjoy the wine (based entirely upon the flavor and style, color doesn’t matter) and you’ll have stayed within your predetermined budget. Voila!